I’ve just started A Visitation of Spirits, Randall Kenan’s first novel. I enjoyed his short story collection Let the Dead Bury their Dead , a volume I’d recommend to anyone, and this book is off to a terrific start. Among its already plentiful virtues, it begins with one of the coolest epigrams I’ve read:

“Are spirits’ lives so short” asked Scrooge?
“My life upon this globe is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”
“To-night!” cried Scrooge.
“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.”
— Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol

“To call up a demon you must learn its name. Men dreamed that, once, but now it is real in another way…”
— William Gibson

Kenan sometimes employed supernatural elements in Dead, usually to complicate his stories about fragmented identity and ego loss, and it seems likely from the epigram (not to mention the table of contents – “White Sorcery”, “Black Necromancy”, “Holy Science”) that he’ll be up to something similar here. Mainly, though, I just like the juxtaposition of Dickens and Gibson.


~ by staticandme on February 2, 2009.

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